The European Commission (EC) has prepared new legislation that would require: android smartphone manufacturers to provide long-term support for their devices.
Motivated by a desire to cut back on e-waste and protect consumers from predatory behaviour, the proposal aims to establish a minimum support term that will apply to all Android devices sold in the EU.
Under the new rules, suppliers would have to provide customers with three years of major feature updates and five years of security patches, extending the life of some cheaper smartphones.
Android software support
As things stand, while some vendors offer generous support terms (for example, the Google Pixel 6 already meets the new requirements), many promise or fail to provide updates for only a handful of years.
This state of affairs presents a dilemma for device owners, who can either opt for an expensive upgrade despite keeping their hardware fully functional, or miss out on new functionality and key security measures.
The new EU rules, in addition to limiting the environmental damage caused by the current upgrade cycle, will allow consumers to use their mobile devices for at least half a decade before having to make a new purchase.
Separately, the proposal includes measures to guard against planned obsolescence, a practice of deliberately building a device to deteriorate over time, forcing the owner to upgrade.
For example, the draft legislation asks manufacturers to meet new battery life baselines, or failing that, bring back old-fashioned mechanisms for swapping replacement cells. Likewise, suppliers should provide parts and repair services for at least five years after a device is released.
Before the legislation can be converted into law, it undergoes a consultation period that runs until the end of the month. The proposal will be implemented in the fourth quarter of 2022 at the earliest, with enforcement commencing one year after the date of implementation.
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